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Social work students make a stand against gendered violence

Social Work student Chelsey Westwood and friends ran a series of events encouraging conversations about gendered violence to mark National White Ribbon Day

25 November marked National White Ribbon Day, a campaign started in 1991 by a group of men concerned about male violence against women. The aim of the campaign is to start conversations about what violence and abuse look like and for people, particularly those identifying as men, to pledge to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence.

This year Social Work student Chelsey Westwood joined forces with fellow Social Work students Megan Jones, Millie Tyler, Morgan Coley and Martha Jennings to organise a series of events around White Ribbon day to raise awareness about stopping gendered violence. As part of the campaign they gathered 350 signatures from students pledging to reduce violence against women.

As a social work student, Chelsey carried out her placement with Julian House in Bath, where she facilitated the Freedom Programme. The Freedom Programme is a course delivered to women who have suffered domestic abuse, to help them examine the roles played by attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors. The aim is to help them to make sense of and understand what has happened to them, instead of the whole experience just feeling like a horrible mess.

Due to covid, last year's White Ribbon activities were smaller, but this year Chelsey and her friends organised a whole series of activities including a movie night and a lecture based on her experiences. The campaign felt particularly pertinent in light of the Sarah Everard case, the rise in revenge porn and the alarming rise in spiking which have recently been in the news.

Chelsey was keen to discuss next steps the University could take, including revitalising support groups such as Minerva’s and Voices, SU groups which have struggled during the pandemic. She hopes that hearing about this event more people will get involved and take forward the campaign.

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